CBSE Class X English Support Material – Poetry – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

- S.T.COLERIDGE

The poem is an extract taken from Coleridge’s famous poem. Here, he brings out the torment and strong feeling of guilt faced by an ancient mariner (an old sailor) who, in a moment of cruelty, killed an innocent albatross. In order to overcome his pain and guilt, he often stopped strangers and told them the story of the troubles faced by the crew as a result of his cruelty.

PART 1

LINES 1-20
An old grey bearded Mariner with hypotonic, bright eyes stopped a wedding guest, who along with his two companions, was going to attend a wedding. The wedding guest said that he was a close relative of the bridegroom and that he had to go as the feast was ready. The ancient mariner held the young man by his arm, but he (the young man) objected to it angrily calling him an old mad man. The old sailor held him by the power of his hypnotising eyes and the wedding guest had no choice, but to listen to him like a small child.

LINES 21-40
The ancient mariner narrated his story that when he was a sailor, their ship sailed southwards on a bright sunny day. It reached the equator where the sun was directly overhead at noon. At this point, the wedding guest heard the loud music of the bassoon and was frustrated. He visualized that the bride must have entered the hall as beautiful as a rose and merry singing will be around to welcome the bride. The wedding guest stood helpless and annoyed as he had to listen to the mariner’s story.

LINES 41-60
The ancient mariner continued his story stating that a dreadful storm struck his ship, pushed it at high speed towards the south direction. The storm was like a hunter chasing its prey (the ship) following it closely. The ship was moving fast making lot of noises as if it was followed by an enemy. The ship reached a place where there was lot of mist and snow. It was extremely cold as both mist and snow surrounded the ship. The ice was flowing as high as the ship looking like as green as emerald. The snow cliffs created a very sad looking shine, as there was no life around. The ice cracked, growled, howled and roared as it moved heavily, holding the ship at one place.

LINES 61-81
The crew of the ship was disturbed with the cold weather, but it was a great relief for them when they were eventually greeted by the arrival of an albatross which came through the fog. It was welcomed by the sailors. As it flew around the ship for food and play, the ice cracked and split. A good south wind propelled the ship out of the icy region into the sea. The albatross followed the ship everyday but at one point the ancient mariner in a fit of anger shot dead the innocent bird with his crossbow. He confessed this to the wedding guest.

PART 2

LINES 80-105
The south wind continued to propel the ship northwards. The sailor soon realised that he had done a hellish thing by killing the bird that had brought the change in the breeze. But when the glorious sun rose after days of mist and snow, they all agreed that he had done a right thing to kill the bird that had earlier brought the fog and the mist. The ship sailed on until the winds brought it to a silent sea. Suddenly the winds died down and they were once again stranded in the middle of the sea.

LINES 106-121
When the breeze stopped to blow, the sails dropped and the ship was becalmed. It was so quiet that the sailors spoke only to break the silence. All day long the red sun shone in the hot sky. Day after day for many days there was no breeze and the ship remained still motionless like a painting. The crew had no water to drink in spite of the vast sea around them. Even the boards of the ship began to shrink.

LINES 120-140
The condition of the crew was pathetic as the sea looked terrible. Soon the bright and slimy creatures crawled out of it and walked on the surface. At night, the water looked like oil and it changes its colours. The sailors had no peace even in their ship and were constantly haunted by the presence of the dead Albatross’s spirit. Day after day, they had no water to drink, their tongues dried up and they were unable to even speak. The sailors held the mariner responsible for their woes and as a constant reminder of killing an innocent bird, the sailors hung the dead albatross around his neck.

SOLVED:

MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS:

Read the following extract and choose the correct option:

A) In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white
Glimmered the white Moon-shine

(a)‘It’ intheabovestanzais__________.
(i) the ship
(ii) the albatross
(iii) the cloud
(iv) the mist

(b)Vespers nine refers to __________.
(i) a fixedtimeeveryday
(ii) nine hours of a day
(iii) nine days
(iv) nine weeks

(c)It was a boon for the sailors because __________.
(i)It had brought them a lot of money
(ii)It had helped the sailors to reach the shore
(iii)It had brought luck and the sailors could move out of the land of mistand snow.
(iv)None of the above

(A)Answers
(a) the albatross
(b) a fixed time every day / ninedays
(c) it hadbrought luck and the sailorscouldmove outofthe landofmist andsnow

II) Short Answer Questions:

a) ‘God save thee, ancient Mariner from the fiends that plague thee thus! Why look’st thou so?’ What does this mean?
Answer: The wedding guest wanted to know why the Mariner was looking so much tormented.

b) How does the Mariner express the fact that the ship was completely surrounded by icebergs?
Answer: Huge blocks of ice were floating here and there. The scene presents an awesome spectacle. There was no sight of human or animal nearby. There was no passage visible through which the ship could be steered.

UNSOLVED:
I) Read the following extract and choose the correct option:

(A) The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared,
Merrily did we drop.
Below the Kirk, below the hill,
Below the lighthouse top.

Questions:-

1) The ship was cheered by
a) the people on the shore
b) the captain of the ship
c) the ancient Mariner
d) the young sailors

2) Explain: MERRILY DID WE DROP.
a) The sailors slowed down their ship
b) The sailors anchored their ship
c) The sailors happily sailed away
d) The sailors stopped making merry and began steering the ship away

3) The poetic device used in line 3 and 4
a) Alliteration
b) Repetition
c) Metaphor
d) Simile

(B) He holds him with his skinny hand,
‘There was a ship’ quoth he,
‘Hold off! Unhand me, grey-bearded loon!
Festoons’ his hand dropt he.

Questions:-

1) He holds him with his skinny hand
a) to test the power of his hand
b) to enjoy his company
c) to narrate to him his story
d) to play a prank on him

2) the second speaker reacted to the first speakers action very
a) angrily
b) respectfully
c) mildly
d) indifferently

3) The old mariner was speaking to
a) The bridegroom
b) The bride
c) The wedding guest
d) An old man

(C) And I had done a hellish thing,
And it would work’em woe:
For all averred, I had killed the bird
That made the breeze to blow.
Ah wretch! Said they, the bird to slay,
That made the breeze to blow!

Questions:-

1) The ‘hellish thing’ that the speaker had done was:
a) He had killed his friend
b) He had killed the albatross
c) He had cheated his fellowmen
d) He had drowned a sailor in the sea

2) Here the speaker is:
a) The wedding guest
b) The albatross
c) The captain of the ship
d) The Ancient Mariner

3) He made the breeze to blow:
a) The Ancient Mariner
b) The Albatross
c) The poet
d) The wedding guest.

(D)All in a hot and copper sky,
The bloody Sun, at noon.
Right up above the mast did stand,
No bigger than the Moon.

Questions:-

1) How did the sky look:
a) Blue as sea
b) Dark as clouds
c) Bright as sun
d) Copper coloured

2) The sun was:
a) Behind the dark clouds
b) Behind the fog and mist
c) right below the mast of the ship
d) right above the mast of the ship

3) The poetic device used in this line is:
a) Hyperbolic and simile
b) Simile and metaphor
c) Alliteration and personification
d) Assonance and alliteration

II) Short Answer Questions in about 30-40 words:

1) How did the Ancient Mariner stop one of the wedding guests? What was his reaction?
2) What happened when the Ancient Mariner’s ship reached the equator?
3) Why did the sailors hang the dead albatross round the neck of the mariner?
4) Briefly describe how the ship was caught in the storm?
5) How was the arrival of the albatross a good omen?
6) How does the ancient mariner describe the land of mist and snow?
7) What painful experience did the mariner undergo in “the silent sea”?
8) What impression do you form of the ancient mariner from the poem?
9) What consequences did the mariner have to face as a result of killing the albatross?

III) Long Answer Questions in about 100-150 words:

1) ‘Water, water, everywhere…. Nor any drop to drink’. When does the ancient mariner make this comment?
1) Describe the ship’s journey from harbour to the southern sea full of mist and snow.
3) The ancient mariner’s shipmates are a bunch of fickle minded sailors. Comment.
4) ‘Punishment does catch up with the sinner although it may be delayed sometimes’.
Comment on this statement with the reference to the poem.
5) Write a short note on the element of supernaturalism in the poem.

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